back to article Please don't leave me... bitch

It was a long time coming but the web's favourite has-been-in-the-making, Facebook, has finally agreed to let users who are bored with it wrest their personal information from its advertising salesmens' clutches. Facebook made a botched attempt at unlocking the prison gates last week, after the New York Times deigned to notice …

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Kool Aid

"see also: "Drink the Kool-Aid", a pop culture expression that certainly has jumped the shark"

which is inaccurate and should be "Flavor Aid" anyway.

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Bronze badge

Bile to fact ratio - 20:1. A new El Reg Facebook article record.

This article is actually about 20 words of news, plus a load of play-to-the-masses-current-opinion rubbish. Why on earth does El Reg characterise anyone with a lot of friends on there as being narcissistic, shallow and/or desperate, which is just as fallacious as ridiculing people with only a few friends on there.

I go on Facebook to keep up with events organised on there, share photos and keep in touch with people I don't see often/haven't seen for years and wish I hadn't lost contact. If/when Facebook vanishes, then I'll do something else, but while it's there I'll use it. If there's anything wrong with that then please tell me; if there isn't then why not stop all of the tedious, constant sniping and report the facts without the editorialising.

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Happy

Empty Howling Souls

If you want to join a facebook group that is against everything that everyone is not against, and for everything that they didn't think they liked, then look at the exclusively El Reg group "We Have Empty Howling Souls"

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Dom

Screenshots?

How about some screenshots rather than / as well as inaccessible URLs, for those of us who stood firm against the lemming tide?

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MySpace, My arse

"...since the primary service they provide users is a place to waste time; a popular opiate that hardly inspires loyalty."

The Reg is in trouble then?! :-)

Maybe I'm just too old, but I've never quite "got" the MySpace / Facebook thing. I can't think of a single reason why I would want to pass a load of personal photos and details on to some anonymous company, let them take "ownership" of it, post it all over the internet for anyone to see, and hope that nobody puts all the personal details together in such a way that they can open a bank account in my name or work out when I'm on holiday so they can break into my house. Nope, I just don't "get" it.

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@Robert Grant

Absolutely; I'm glad that they've sorted out a deletion method that works, but FB IS useful for exactly the reasons you describe. So what if Zuckerberg's a prick? The fact is that he's a prick that's created something useful. Like most useful things it's also capable of misuse, but it's still useful.

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Happy

@Robert

"Why on earth does El Reg characterise anyone with a lot of friends on there as being narcissistic, shallow and/or desperate"

Because anyone with more than 20 'friends' on MySpace and/or Facebook is kidding themselves.

In the pre web 2.0 days a 'friend' was someone you knew intimately, who you had common experience with and shared a significant proportion of your life with. In web 2.0 terms a 'friend' is anyone who can click a button.

Look, it works like this - mainstream advertising and marketing work on insecurity - all such advertising boils down to "buy our stuff or you are rubbish".

Facebook and MySpace have simply taken this to the next level and created advertising environments that says "participate in our targeted advertising site or you are rubbish". Everything else is just window dressing.

Anyone who's stuck around on those sites long enough to get 1000s of 'friends' has either not worked this out yet or does not have enough self-respect to care.

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Coat

GAdverts?

"Google has been able to make vast pots of cash targeting ads based on web searches and emails"

You mean people actually click on those?

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Re: Mal Franks

The saying is in fact "drinking the Kool-Aid" and predates the Jonestown massacre by over a decade. It originally referred to drinking Kool-Aid laced with LSD, thereby buying into the hippy psychedelic culture thing. Only after the Jonestown massacre did it take on the darker meaning.

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Another bland facebook bashing article...

Facebook has flaws from a user perspective, one of which is leaving if you so wish (which they are finally dealing with). The fact that a service has flaws does not make it worthless.

Facebook as a business has flaws (no profit being an obvious one) but as a user it doesn't change my experience using Facebook.

My profile is shared with the 30 or so people I have explicitly allowed it to be shared with, and a very limited version of it is accessible by another 5-10 who I don't know well enough to want to share phone numbers etc with.

I access Facebook a couple of times a week, generally for less than 10 minutes to check for any news, perhaps view a couple of pictures posted by friend. As a general rule I use it more to share/access information (addresses, phone numbers) than to communicate.

Now maybe what I'm doing is completely and utterly sad and I'm just too caught up in it to realise, but it seems to me that the Facebook haters can't understand that not everyone on Facebook can't survive without checking it hourly.

If you don't want to use a service I personally find useful then feel free, but the arguements I hear against it almost always remind me of a lot of Elderly people's opinions of mobile phones.

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Alert

Facebook invitations

Just reading this article and as a "never been there, never will" non facebook person, is that right? basically I dont want it, but...I do get invites from friends, yes those in the real world, and every time someone new invites me, the email kindly lists all the other people who have previously sent me invites, so...does this mean that Facebook know who I am?

They must have my address from the first person who sent me an invite and then as more people invited me, there details are tied to my account, would this be right?

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Law
Paris Hilton

@ anon

"Because anyone with more than 20 'friends' on MySpace and/or Facebook is kidding themselves.

In the pre web 2.0 days a 'friend' was someone you knew intimately, who you had common experience with and shared a significant proportion of your life with. In web 2.0 terms a 'friend' is anyone who can click a button."

I have about 70 friends on facebook - allot of them, infact most of them, are people who I WAS close friends with at some point, and somehow lost contact with. I move around ALOT... and facebook has put me back in contact with alot of old friends. There is a fb app called friends wheel - and it shows you who in your friends list is friends with other friends of yours - on my wheel its obvious that people are split into distinct groups, corresponding to distinct parts of my life. So I have a group of school friends, I have a group of college friends, university friends, work friends from different companies, and then there are the areas around the country we moved to, made friends, then moved away.

I would say half the people I currently text/ring/meet with regularly are not even signed up to facebook - I don't really go pubs/clubs and so don't have random people I dont remember sober on there either.

But of course, by your definition - if I don't know where every freckle is on their body, I shouldn't consider any of these people from my life friends and make no attempt to reconnect with them........ condescending bollocks if you ask me, possibly scorned when nobody accepted your friends request, and I can see why they wouldn't! :)

Paris - because I want to know the location of every freckle on here body..... so I can call her a friend, obviously! :)

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Anonymous Coward

'Friends'

@anon "Because anyone with more than 20 'friends' on MySpace and/or Facebook is kidding themselves."

I wouldn't get hung up on this - Web2.0 simply uses a different definition of friends to real-life, probably because calling people acquaintances instead was a little too clinical for myspace/facebook/etc (and too difficult to spell too...). We all know more than 20 people - and like to keep up on the gossip about their lives. Myspace/facebook/etc just make this easier to do.

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Happy

@ AC

"Because anyone with more than 20 'friends' on MySpace and/or Facebook is kidding themselves."

Oh my! By your defintion my family are "kidding ourselves". Let's see shall we?

My step son uses it to keep in touch with REAL PEOPLE he meets at music festivals and to make their camping arrangements at the next one. Hundreds on his list.

My wife uses it to keep find REAL PEOPLE from her time living in South Africa and as a method of swapping photo's with not so far flung friends in the UK. About 70 odd on her list. It's also useful for finding out when said son is away for a few days so that me and the missus can plan a weekend away ;-)

I have only 26 friends on my list - all ex military types who for one reason or another lost contact when one by one we left the services. Believe it or not THEY are also REAL PEOPLE. (I'm sure that most of them have ot get the ir significant others to the typing for them though - last time I saw them, most of them would onsider a keyboard nothing more than a blunt instrument for despatching the nearest <insert latest enemy of choice>)

Facebook is a tool and, like any tool, if used safely and with due regard for the inherent dangers that the tool contains, it can be a bit of fun. It's a laugh for God's sake.... It's also a little more efficient than Royal Mail and a lot cheaper than stamps. Has an added bonus it has Scrabulous (for now) and Scramble too :-)

Why are you moaning about something you're obviously not interested in personally? Maybe if you took your blinkers off and broadened your horizons for a while, you may find something that you ARE interested in and leave everyone else alone.

See you in another life, Brother!

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@ anonymous Actually, I like to keep in touch with my friends.

Currently I have 40 facebook friends. I know all of them in real life. Let's omit 6 relatives. Then about another 2-3 that frankly I wouldn't be too fussed about if I lost touch.

The rest of the people I'm either in reasonably regular contact with in real life, or online, or want to be in more regular contact.

If I'm only reasonably outgoing and have 30 friends, the real partyers and extroverts will have a lot more. I could easily add another 10 people if they bothered to go online. Don't judge everyone by your own standards..

On the other hand, whilst facebook is useful for staying in touch, the applications are fscking annoying..

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Some touchy FB users...

...on here today. AC got too close to the simmering insecurities, eh?

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Dead Vulture

You're all missing the point here

The internet IS a social network.

Facebook and myspace bring nothing new to the table, infact; they are bad hacks that work extremely inefficiently..

If people want to chat and share things in groups; IRC has existed for years. It's a much better model of social structure, and it's miles more efficient (not to mention REAL TIME).

Unfortunately we live in the 'my appendage is bigger than your appendage' western society where you're obliged to not only prove it, but shove it in everyone's face (so to speak).

If you understand these concepts, don't use these websites; don't contribute to the spread of this rediculous idea that social networking is a new concept and needs to be centralised - it's wrong, and it's damaging in the long run.

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Thumb Up

@ Spleen, re: "drinking the Kool-Aid"

You sure about that? I was in college in the late '70s when the whole Jonestown thing went down and, as my pals and I were all hardcore longhairs, there was the predictable joking about Kool-Aid; still, I never, ever heard the expression "drinking the Kool-Aid"/"Kool-Aid Drinker" until well into the '90s, just at the dawn of the First Dotcom Era.

@ Chris Williams: I know a lot of folks use those expressions these days, but I daresay the reason they're so popular is that they so perfectly express the phenomena they describe...especially "jumping the shark".

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Happy

@Law

You have 70 friends on Facebook? Or at least people who used to be friends before you moved without getting their phone number or e-mail address.

How nice.

And friends outside Facebook too who you text and ring and sometimes meet but not in the pub?

Lovely.

We need to know that why?

Oh wait, you're a facebook user aren't you. Of course the world needs to know how many friends you have. Sorry. Carry on.

Back on topic the lesser point I was making was the one that the poster after you quite succinctly put down to just being part of the web 2.0 doublespeak vocabulary.

And yes, the term 'friends' in the web 2.0 context (where it generally means 'casual contacts', 'folk I couldn't be arsed keeping in touch with until facebook made it easy' or, more likely, 'strangers') does annoy me because I have met people who genuinely think that they are better than someone else because they have 1500 MySpace 'friends' while the other has only 1450. My instinct is to say "well, if that's your measure then I have 230,000 friends" and then smack them with the phone-book.

In any case the main point I was making was not that no-one can have more than 20 friends (real friends or web 2.0 'friends') but that if you hang around Facebook or MySpace long enough to collect that many then you have to have realised that these sites are basically an advertising excercise in the guise of 'social networking' and therefore no-one should be surprised when the privacy and/or security of the users is not the first consideration on the owner/operator's minds until they are forced to think about it.

And no, I'm not pissed at not having an 'add' request accepted because I've never made one - I did sign up to MySpace to see what all the fuss was about, saw what all the fuss was about (data harvesting, profiling, advertising and spam on the commercial side and vanity, insecurity, ego massage, inane gossip, illiteracy and very, very bad graphic design on the 'social' side) and promptly abandoned my profile to the cobwebs and went to the pub with my friends.

Two more brief points;

1) There are gazillions of MySpace and Facebook users so one can't help but generalise when discussing it.

2) My comments, like El Reg's, are somewhat barbed and biased and a little tounge in cheek. "Biting The Hand That Feeds I.T.", remember.

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@Mike

Now you I look deeper, not entirely. Wikipedia's article on Kool-Aid contained a reference to a 1968 book by Tom Wolfe which uses the phrase. Yeah yeah, Wikipedia, but the reference did seem to check out. Only looking at it again it only confirms that people went round drinking LSD and Kool-AId - not that it gained any sort of currency as a saying.

So on reflection I withdraw my comment - it seems a plausible explanation for why the saying's Kool Aid rather than Flavor Aid (I don't really buy that it's just because Kool Aid is more popular), but I wouldn't state it as fact now. Your anecdotal experience is probably as good as anything else.

P.S. I'm one of those weirdos who actually uses Facebook to keep in touch with people I know in real life as well. There's probably just under 20 on my list, I don't count. It's one of those things that is actually useful, but not even close to as valuable as the media make out, so you inevitably get caught between the evangelists on one hand and the backlash on the other.

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IT Angle

ouch...fashionista 2.0 forgets the fundamentals

Oh chortle, when will people ever learn that web 2.0 operations such as Facebook represent a well-worn market segment in the 'real' world ... fashion

Fashion is ephemeral and a contradiction; trendy but predictable, different yet me-to and doomed to be boring the day after it reaches the tipping point from viral to established.

Lets face it, trend-wise facebook was doomed the day your average <24 yr old realised that _politicians_ <spit> were dropping the fact they had an entry at every sound-bite opportunity they could.

Its the nature of fads and fashion that they come and go ... and why not? There's always someone with the urge to prove they got there in the first wave, ten years ago people would boast to having OnlY a 4-digit CU-Seeme member number - they could prove their credibility...

I never joined facebook, never felt the need to do so, if I need to contact someone I can use a plethora of ways but ... I dont care if people use it or not. But, I'll continue to chortle loudly at wickedly ironic postings such as this (keep 'em coming John) and laugh out loud at those soo offended that they decide to take issue in the Posts at how awful El Reg is for poring scorn ... guys, have you not READ the banner strapline?

Facebook or any of the other variants will always struggle to make money ... me, I'd get on with inventing a platform product that would allow other people to quickly (say, a few days) build such social phenomenon, then chuckle my way to the bank on the usage royalties while the ever-more-creatively-named websites come and go.

Yours admiringly (of the rapier-like humour)

M.

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Boffin

Lots of friends, dood!

Heh. The only place you'll find me with 100 odd friends would be hi5, and even I admit that only 50 or something are actual, Real-Life friends. The others are sometimes people I know, but not that much of a friend though. hi5 did have my attention as I was able to get in contact with long-lost friends, so Facebook came too late for me. In fact, I think hi5 was the first one out there, as most of my close friends call social networks "hi5 imitators".

While I do believe you can have internet-based friends, that doesn't automatically mean "linked by a social network". Even with instant messaging or email, there are a lot of people that only send me crappy chain-mails and nothing else. Thats the reason my livejournal has about 3 friends, my MSN spaces thingy has about 8 and only the hi5 one has "a lot". I don't really link anyone but actual friends now, I just grew tired of getting craploads of chainmails because that is someone's braindead idea of "keeping in touch".

If I want to read jokes, that's a BBS job. Oops, the Facebook generation doesn't know what that is. "Huh? What's that DOS thingy?"

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Stop

WRT: Anyone with more than 20 friends...

Intrigued by this assertion I decided to see how true it was for me. I don't consider myself to have a particularly large group of friends but out of my 52 in Facebook I've spent 'proper' social time with 25 in the last three months and if I look a year back it's 35. Not bad for someone who works in IT.

As many people have said in these comments, if used in a particular way Facebook is a useful tool. My particular way involves AdBlock Plus and Greasemonkey to get rid of the ads along with judicious use of the Block Application function. The only further feature I'd like is the ability to completely block application invites but I can't see that happening!

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Dead Vulture

I noticed that too...

This reporter really has it in for facebook, and moreover seems to think people are only on the site 'to be cool'.

Some real news for you then: some people actually like facebook, and find it a useful and, yes even fun site.

Oh yes and I have about 70 people on my facebook friends list, all of whom I know and met before adding them to facebook.

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Dead Vulture

Back in 1997...

Oh yes... thanks for bringing that up...

I was stuck in the middle of the Irish Sea bobbing about whilst the hushed, becalmed, engine off, cinema closed, tannoy announcing boat, paid it's respects... My partner and I continued to play travel backgammon in muted conversation (read: fear of being stabbed in the eye by possessed zealots wielding plastic forks), as the rest of the poor souls incarcerated in the metal tub, sat quietly crying into their tabloid headlines, and staring in wonder at the pics showing acres of wilting shrivelled florist bottom-line bonanzas laid across London's landmarks.

Not that i'm a cynic. ;-)

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: I noticed that too...

Gosh, I don't have it in for Facebook as a service. Nor am I suggesting that it can't be fun. Free online storage space is indeed useful and the vast server farms its investors fund without return have indeed fired a classic example of human herd behaviour.

However, I do have it in for the Valley web designers, bloggers, PR people, VCs, UK national press and anyone else who swallows preposterous idea that it is worth $15bn, or is changing the world in any way.

The sooner this myth is busted the better.

To reiterate: I'm not suggesting membership or usage of Facebook - or its forerunners or imitators - is any reflection on anyone. I include myself in the sentence "It was the unquestioning bovine herd-brain in all of us that fired its explosive growth, with millions powerless to resist invitations from their 'friends'".

The point is that Facebook, MySpace et al have tried, and are failing, to profit from flogging your data to marketeers, and now its easier to opt-out.

- Chris

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IT Angle

With the cunning of a sheep...

I'll read a book before I EVER create a myspace or facebook page. As for the whole social networking aspect of web 2.0, I'm an isolationist. So, I will happily wait for a more realistic, productive web 3.0, thank you very much.

As for the comment on ones number of online friends... Out of curiosity, how many of them would you take a bullet for? Or possibly go to for or bail out of jail? Donate a kidney to? The people who you would do any of those for and know would do the same for you, at the drop of a hat-no questions asked are your real friends. The rest are all acquaintances.

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Heart

@Chris Williams

"...pickled cadaver of personal information."

The rest of the article be damned, you deserve a Pulitzer just for that.

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Boffin

@ Kool-Aid

The original exercise, from one of the many pranks of Ken Kesey's [ "One flew over the cuckoo's nest" Author] Merry Pranksters as they travelled across America on their bus was to invite people to turn on to LSD via "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid test". to quote Kesey " you are either on the bus - or off the bus". The testees were often not informed of the extra contents of the Kool-Aid.

There was much other merry insanity on said trip (!) and some Acid casualties - Tom Wolfe more or less documented the Pranksters' rise, bus trip and side events in the 1968 novel.

The Sig? - after the Kool-Aid

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@Mr Chris

"...on here today. AC got too close to the simmering insecurities, eh?"

Either that, or because HE has no friends he assumes that no-one else does.

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Anonymous Coward

@bws

hey bws - how many people would you take a bullet for in your mobile phone or address book? surely you don't have people in there who aren't proper 'friends'??

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Double room please. No flowers.

Very sad, this 'social network' thing.

I have a social network though. It's called my local pub. And I recourse to something called the telephone to contact people I fancy having a chat with for a few minutes to plan my days or weeks ahead of me.

You see, I fail to see the point of having a page on a website that says I'm a friend of someone who sits across the other side of the office. If it's to 'find people I have seen for years' then I shouldn't have lost touch in the first place.

I've also got no idea how many friends I have because counting them seems as pointless as knitting fog. Frankly, if you're counting your so-called friends on a web page in response to this article - or to these messages - then that says a lot about your priorities in life.

Very sad, this 'social network' thing.

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@AC

> hey bws - how many people would you take a bullet for in your mobile phone or address book? surely you don't have people in there who aren't proper 'friends'??

Precisely one, and I'd hazard a guess most people have either 0 or one, depending on if they are single or not. (And the non single people with 0 might have one person they would kill... :) )

But anyway, I think the whole concentrate on Facebook thing is a little one sided. I don't know any forums that would delete your account *and* every post you have made. Heck, would El Reg if somebody asked?

The problem with deleting old accounts with the posts is that you end up with entire threads/conversations that make to sense because key parts of the conversation are missing.

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Flame

Decisions, decisions

So. Can I be arsed to revive my facebook account just to delete it?

I think I put in a load of gibberish in the profile before I 'rested' it, and never used it for much anyway.

Decisions, decisions.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Facebook invitations

"Just reading this article and as a "never been there, never will" non facebook person, is that right? basically I dont want it, but...I do get invites from friends, yes those in the real world, and every time someone new invites me, the email kindly lists all the other people who have previously sent me invites, so...does this mean that Facebook know who I am?"

Well, think of it in data processing terms, or I guess common sense. To group those invitations as, basically, "people who invited Roger", you need at least the concept that there is a unique person named Roger. Well, probably more like the email address, since that's more likely to be unique than the name. (How many John Smiths does it have?) So at least at that minimal "knowing who you are" must exist. It also has a list of your "friends", or at least who invited you, or again, it couldn't list them.

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Flame

@Law

"I have about 70 friends on facebook - allot of them, infact most of them, are people who I WAS close friends with at some point, and somehow lost contact with. I move around ALOT... and facebook has put me back in contact with alot of old friends. There is a fb app called friends wheel - and it shows you who in your friends list is friends with other friends of yours - on my wheel its obvious that people are split into distinct groups, corresponding to distinct parts of my life. So I have a group of school friends, I have a group of college friends, university friends, work friends from different companies, and then there are the areas around the country we moved to, made friends, then moved away."

Dude, so you have 70 RL friends on Facebook alone, _plus_ a lot that aren't even on Facebook. Let's say, 100 total, since you're such a popular guy.

I'm sorry, but I can't even imagine that, unless you have a _very_ shallow definition of what friend means. If you met one of them a day on the average (including when some days you meet none, some days you go to the pub with two or three), you'd see each of them briefly every 3 months.

Even talking by email, although that's pushing the definition of friend too a bit, I don't see you writing 100 emails a day unless you're unemployed since college and have no hobbies whatsoever.

That's not really friends, that's at best acquaintances.

No, noone says you have to know every freckle on their body, but at the point where you last saw someone was in college, that's hardly a friend any more after, say, 10 years.

Maybe taking a bullet for you, like someone else put it, is a bit too restrictive a definition, but I have to wonder how many of those even think of you more often than when answering you emails.

Heck, with so many of them, do _you_? Or are they just a list in your address book? Humans have a limited attention span and limited free time, so dividing it between a whole battalion of "friends" means basically that each of them is little more than just another name.

I doubt that if someone kept you away from that shopping list of "friends" to maintain, you'd spontaneously go "man, I miss X. I wonder what he's doing" for three quarters of them. Again, unless you're unemployed and have absolutely nothing else to occupy your mind with.

That's not friendship, that's collecting a list of names.

That's somewhat the problem some of us have with Facebook and the like. They play on people's insecurities, and try to make it sound like quantity is more important than quality. They effectively dilute what friend means.

They turned "friendship" into just another willy-waving contest of whose list is bigger. And played on people's insecurities to get them to lower their standards to the point where anyone they ever heard of is suddenly their "friend", just to add another name to that precious list.

Heck, most of them even pretend that being linked via 6 steps to someone, makes you their almost friend. It doesn't. If Johnny likes Jenny, and Jenny likes Joe, and Joe like Benny, and Benny likes Bo, then at the end of the day Bo still doesn't give a flying f-word about Johnny. If Bo is just the name-collecting prom-queen kind, like many there, it's doubtful that even Benny would get too big a help or favour out of them. Go out of their way for a perfect stranger, because he's the friend of _another_ perfect stranger, who knows _another_ perfect stranger, who just happens to know someone in their address book? I hope you don't really expect them to lift a finger, because you might be disappointed.

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Anonymous Coward

Sad Facebook haters

What is wrong with all these people that have a chip on their shoulder about Facebook?

I don't use Facebook but it seems a perfectly acceptable way to keep in contact with people and share pictures and the like.

These idiots think that if you have 1500 'friends' in Facebook means the same things as friends in the more common meaning. It is just the terminology Facebook use for 'contacts' (which of course many may be friends).

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Happy

@ all the book bashers

"I'll read a book before I EVER create a myspace or facebook page"

Speaks volumes.

To appease the folks who are completely against anyone trying to make a point on here, I will not mention any numbers of "friends" in this piece.

So I have ** friends on Facebook. Some of these, I admit are not people I keep in contact with on a regular basis, however I feel it's nicer to have them referred to as friends, as opposed to having them referred to as "People I used to go to school/college/University and met at various points in my life, would like to know that they are contactable, but don't really talk to them on a regular basis."

Do you folks have an address book, do you keep contacts in there? Now simply because Facebook users want to have their contacts referred to as friends, does not mean they are all of sudden bad people.

El Reg, your vitriol towards this site seems to have grated on some nerves!

For the record, I have arranged X stag do's, X weekends away and X weeks at Cheltenham festival (only 3 weeks to go, come on) not entirely through facebook but with it's help.

I hope my omission of any mention of friend numerb in my article makes it acceptable to you!

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Coat

@Rusty warrior

"It's also useful for finding out when said son is away for a few days so that me and the missus can plan a weekend away ;-)"

Ever tried that old favourite - talking.....

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Happy

Now there's the sound of a raw nerve being hit..

"Either that, or because HE has no friends he assumes that no-one else does."

Sadly the piqued egos here have clouded the main point of my original post so let's drop the completely arbitrary number '20' in my original post and say 'X+1' instead; where X is the number of 'friends' that YOU have on MySpace or Facebook. Feel any better now? Ego soothed? Lovely.

That's another point, though, these sites are fueled largely by ego.

These social networking sites promote the idea that it's all about YOU (YOUR profile, YOUR blog, YOUR 'friends', YOUR pictures, YOUR PMs, YOUR bullitens, YOUR add requests, YOUR groups, YOUR current emotion, YOUR favourite whatever, YOUR song-now-playing) and to a point it's true because it is really about YOUR demographic data and about targeting advertising at YOU. To the people who operate these systems (and to the vast, vast majority of those who use them) YOU are indeed unique and special.

So are the other gazillion users, of course, but not so unique and special that YOU can't be slotted into handy marketing categories which is what makes the personal information you give them so valuable.

Except it isn't really that valuable because advertising, even targetted advertising, is not nearly as effective or valuable as the people who make money selling advertising want to believe.

If you can step back from YOU long enough to take a look at these sites and how they fit into the real world maybe you'd understand why I and El Reg tend to be somewhat scathing towards them.

Yes, these social networking sites provide some useful (if flawed) tools to find, aggregate and communicate with contacts and like any tool it can be used in various ways and they way it's used reveals a lot about the user (though in Soviet Web2.0 the tool uses the user too).

If you step back from YOU long enough to look at the overwhelming amount of ego-massaging, triva and banality that these tools are being used to communicate you may also understand a certain amount of sniping at certain egregious sections of the userbase as well.

That's 'certain egregious sections of the userbase', but not YOU, of course, because YOU are unique and special.

Just like everyone else.

Anonymous Coward is feeling: Cynical.

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Jobs Halo

Facebook is not bad

I use facebook to keep in touch with people.

I don't use it to spank vampires or anything like that.

If you use it as a communication tool, it is quite good, the photo plugin for iPhoto makes it easy to upload photos so your friends can see.

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Anonymous Coward

@Now there's the sound of a raw nerve being hit..

"these social networking sites provide some useful (if flawed) tools to find, aggregate and communicate with contacts and like any tool it can be used in various ways"

Clearly

" and they way it's used reveals a lot about the user"

Big deal

YOU seem to be enjoying the "ego-massaging, triva and banality" of posting here as much as I am :-)

YOU tin-foil hat wearer!

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Generalisations 'R' us

[That's another point, though, these sites are fueled largely by ego]

etc

If you've not used it I struggle to understand how you *know* that's what it's like, and aren't just believing the spin written in various sections of the press.

From my personal experience (having a dozen or so contacts) the ppl that I know don't post pics of themselves. They post pics of their mates, because as you might imagine, my mates and I taking the pics are behind the camera. I can say that a friend of a friend of my girlfriend does seem to have a tendency to post pictures going "look at me! I deserve a boyfriend!" but she's the only one, and I don't know her. Don't particularly care to either.

The number of "friends"/contacts ppl have on Facebook is not in my experience ego driven. It might be on MySpace, but on FaceBook it's a result of the "privacy" features. I, like many of my friends have my profile locked down almost as much as it can be. Most of my friends have their mug shot up there, and so nosey buggers from school/old jobs etc find them and send friend invites to them, not to collect them as some kind of trophy but so they can have a gander and see what they are up to (you need to be "friended" in order to see the profile, including photos, messages they have rcvd etc)

Now most ppl aren't really that mean and find it hard to decline an invite, fearing they may cause personal offence (I have no such qualms and have declined ppl I actually know and see most days of the week, ergo I only have a dozen or so contacts) Once they've accepted an invite they feel that to delete them would be even more mean than not accepting in the first place so ppl don't bother, and end up with an ever growing list of "friends".

If you used FaceBook you'd know this. If you just read stories designed to generate page imprints then you wouldn't.

C'est la vie.

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Happy

@AC

RE: Ever tried that old favourite - talking.....

Yes - failed miserably becuase he's at the single grunt stage of his development. His calendar is (unlike his vocabulary) extensive and never fails to keep us up to date with his plans.

Joy - I know what he's planning anddon't have to sound like a caveman to do it.

Peace and Felicitations

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Law
Flame

RE: "@Law" 's

I don't see how it's that hard to believe that anybody has more than a couple of friends... I guess people I know as intimately I would call a close friend or best friend.

And to the first AC idiot who said:

"We need to know that why?

Oh wait, you're a facebook user aren't you. Of course the world needs to know how many friends you have. Sorry. Carry on."

First off It was just a reply to accusations that all facebook users are shallow fools, the friend count was just an example of somebody actually considering the people on their list as friends. My profile is actually set to private, so just friends, not even networks - I don't blog, I don't add billions of applications, and its not like I'm commenting on here with my full name or anything.. but then again, why am I trying to defend myself from somebody who doesn't have the decency to add a general handle to their insults.

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Coat

Just my tuppence

I have and do use Facebook to get more sex. On my list (not telling you how many) there are only 3 I haven't yet met, but am (using the joys of Private messages) in the process of arranging said meetings... FB has also been very gratifying in setting up fake accounts just for fun, like the Muslim who proceeded to join BNP groups and stir up some "righteous" indignation (oh the howls of horror when 'Ahmed' told them he had 5 children by 4 different white women, and was signing on the dole in about 7 different names as "we all look the same to you bastards" with no intention of getting a job, and they were paying for him to do all this out of their taxes) ...

IMHO, FB is a pile of shite used by Advertising leeches to try and suck every last vestige of financial life out of the younger generations, who, whether by apathy, being stoned on chronically over strength weed, or being that bit more switched on, are just harder to sell to...

It also, if used correctly, is a tool for endless amounts of amusement, and in one memorable episode, a 3some with 2 of the hottest women I've ever met in my life! (not bad for a slightly overweight, dodgy eyed baldie!) maybe I should confess to being fairly fit, and in pretty good shape muscularly, and I bear a passing resemblance to "Grunt" Mitchell the ex-eastender, which helps considerably in that regard... They also had a combined IQ of around 100, but hell, when they look so good you want to eat them, when they offer you aren't going to turn it down! ;)

Mine's the seedy looking smoking jacket, old boy!

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Just my tuppence

So, hey, Louis, you Wade-dumping muscle-beast, what are you doing later? I'm free, as soon as I've finished mopping up the raw testosterone that's simply oozing down my monitor here.

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@Law

"I don't see how it's that hard to believe that anybody has more than a couple of friends"

More than a couple, yes. More than, say, two dozen? Nope, sorry, I'm sorry how that would fit even a very diluted definition of "friends". You just don't have the time or mental capacity to juggle that many, to any decent amount of maintenance, unless you do nothing else.

Look, I'm not saying you should be really intimate with them to call them "friends". I'm not saying they should take a bullet for you.

I'm just saying, basically: if it weren't for that list of names to keep tabs on, how many would even think of you more than once a year? About how many of them would _you_ even think? Before adding them to that list, did either of you even bother sending a snail mail or email to each other? Regularly? Because if the answer there is "no", then that's not even the most relaxed version of "friendship" imaginable.

Want to slowly ramp up towards what most people call "friends"?

How many of them would you invite to a pub or over to watch a game, if they were in the same city? Let's say, once every 3 months. For just the 70 of those on your Facebook list, that's 280 days a year, if taken individually, but I you can take 2-3 at a time (more than that and they're not getting much of your attention there), and reduce it to 3 months a year or so. Would you do that? Because if you go, "well, geeze, I don't have that much time, and the missus would skin me", then it's time to prune some off that definition of "friend".

And how many of them would spontaneously invite _you_?

How many of them would you invite to your birthday or wedding or christmas, if all were in the same town? How many you know would just make an excuse every time anyway? Well, anyone who doesn't make that list, you know...

But wait, one kinda expectation of friend is that they're there for you, should you ever find yourself really in bad need of help. You know, "a friend in need is a friend indeed." It doesn't say "can be promoted to best friend," but rather, "is a friend indeed."

Let's start with simple stuff. How many would drop whatever they're doing and come, I dunno, bail you from jail if you got caught in a riot or football rampage? For how many of them would _you_ do that?

Etc.

Friendships are a bit higher on the maintenance than having a checkmark on each other's Facebook pages. That's really why some of us can't imagine someone with 70 real friends. You only have a limited time for them, and that time gets divided by that number.

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Flame

willy-waving

firstly... facebook has ads?! Where? "Damn" that adblock. :)

secondly... it seems there are two types of willy-wavers in these comments, those that think they are superior due to the size of their contact list and those who think they are superior because they think only their opinion matters.

Grow up people!

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Anonymous Coward

@AC

On my personal mobile, I have 5 numbers. One blood relative and 4 friends. In my personal email address book... 6 entries... The same blood relative, 4 friends and my wife's work email address, as I can remember both our home phone number and her work number.

If my space or FB had anything truly useful to offer, other than pictures, examples of people who have way too much time on their hands showing off their ability to cut & paste, fancy fonts, flashy gifs, songs & videos playing the moment you open their link, and I would be remiss if I failed to mention the countless shout outs from "friends", then I'd be all for it.

The whole concept of "social network" to that scale was a one hit wonder, now in its sunset.

About the only thing left are the people who use it to share family pictures, but haven't figured out how to email them & people looking for one night stand (or two).

Past that, what significant societial contribution does it provide?

Besides, if there was anybody that I was dead set on wanting to keep in touch with, I'd have a telephone number, an emaill address or dare I say a snailmail address. Plus, I'd figure if anybody wanted to get in touch with me, I'm not too terribly hard to find and they would eventually get in touch with me... If not, that's OK too.

So I, for one, don't buy into all the hype of the whole "social" network scam... Like the theories of communism & global warming: Sure, the theories behind them look good on paper but in real life, they're floundering... And as my grandfather once taught me at a young age... You can't sugar coat a turd, because at the end of the day, it's still a turd.

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